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16 Feb, 2024 04:53

US lawmakers leave Ukraine aid bill in limbo

President Joe Biden said that failure to back Kiev at such a critical time would “never be forgotten”
US lawmakers leave Ukraine aid bill in limbo

The US House of Representatives failed to pass key international aid legislation that would have devoted some $95 billion in additional funding to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, before lawmakers broke for winter recess.

When the lawmakers return from recess on February 28, they will face a higher priority challenge than sending billions in US taxpayer dollars to Kiev, as they will have just a few days to negotiate a deal to avert yet another US government shutdown.

The House speaker, Republican Mike Johnson, later insisted his fellow party members would not accept an aid bill that did not also contain stiffer border protections.

“The Republican-led house will not be jammed or forced into passing a foreign aid bill that was opposed by most Republican senators and does nothing to secure our own border,” Johnson said.

President Biden, who has clamored time and again for the new aid to Ukraine and Israel, voiced outrage after the bill failed to come to a vote, warning that those who obstructed the measure would “never be forgotten.”

Lawmakers failed to compromise on a deal after Republicans demanded that the package include new funds to protect the border with Mexico.

Following months of negotiations, the two major parties were simply unable to reach an agreement on the massive foreign aid bill on Thursday as lawmakers head off for their winter break. The legislation would include some $60 billion for Kiev, more than $14 billion for Israel and around $8 billion for US partners in the Indo-Pacific. Still more funds will be allocated to a number of other projects, including supporting US military action around the globe, bringing its total price tag to over $95 billion.

While Republicans had insisted that the bill must include new funding for security at the southern US border if they were ever to agree to additional Ukraine aid, negotiations on the Senate version of the legislation ultimately fell through, with several GOP members dropping their support following criticisms by former President Donald Trump.

House GOP members have refused to pass any stand-alone legislation that only deals with the foreign aid, insisting the bill must address an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration.